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The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

A History of Nazi Germany
Written by: William L. Shirer
Narrated by: Grover Gardner
Length: 57 hrs and 11 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.9 out of 5 stars (329 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Since its publication in 1960, William L. Shirer’s monumental study of Hitler’s German empire has been widely acclaimed as the definitive record of the 20th century’s blackest hours. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich offers an unparalleled and thrillingly told examination of how Adolf Hitler nearly succeeded in conquering the world. With millions of copies in print around the globe, it has attained the status of a vital and enduring classic.

Now, many years after the end of World War II, it may seem incredible that our most valued institutions and way of life were threatened by the menace that Hitler and the Third Reich represented. Shirer’s description of events and the cast of characters who played such pivotal roles in defining the course Europe was to take is unforgettable.

Benefiting from his many years as a reporter, and thus a personal observer of the rise of Nazi Germany, and availing himself of some of the 485 tons of documents from the German Foreign Office, as well as countless other diaries, phone transcriptions, and other written records, meticulously kept at every level by the Germans, Shirer has put together a brutally objective account of how Hitler wrested political control of Germany, and planned and executed his six-year quest to dominate the world, only to see Germany go down in flames.

This is a richly rewarding experience for anyone who wants to come to grips with the mysterious question of how this menace to civilization ever came into being, much less was sustained for as long as it was. The answer, unfortunately, is that most of Germany, for a whole host of reasons, embraced Nazism and the fanaticism that Hitler engendered.

©1990 William L. Shirer (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

“One of the most important works of history of our time.” ( The New York Times)
”A splendid work of scholarship, objective in method, sound in judgment, inescapable in its conclusions.” ( The New York Times Book Review)

What listeners say about The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

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    4 out of 5 stars

Exactly what I was looking for.

The book was well written with a substantial amount details into each specific event. There wasn't very much repeating of information and the sequence of events or well-thought-out when written. For those looking for a good introduction into the topic, or a detailed account of the events. this book satisfies both requirements in an excellent manner. the level of detail in the beginning was a little too much as I wanted more excitement. but within a short. Of time, I grew to love the detail into every part and felt fully immersed in the events. very quickly it proved to be an excellent writing style for my taste.

5 people found this helpful

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A couple of flat spots but otherwise great..

I was skeptical of buying such a long title. Sometimes they are hard to stay focused. This book does an awesome job building up the Nazi party at the start. There is a couple of flat spots leading up to the war but once the war starts, its hard to put down again. As the other reviews note, there is something about it that makes this book stand out from other long forms. The way the author places himself in the book is good too.

5 people found this helpful

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The most extensive book I have ever listened too!

I have always been a huge War Movie fan from WW1, WW2, Vietnam, etc etc. Being a History buff for as long as I can remember I thought I knew a lot about the Second World War and everything the Nazi did! Well not so much. This book is a piece of history and should be placed in the Library of every country on earth. The author Willian L Shirer has the background that maybe he is the only person eligible to write the piece of history. Google him and you will see what I mean. The narrator, Grover Gardner is truly amazing and keeps you listening. I have searched other books that this narrator has performed just because how well he tells a story and the sound of his voice. The narrator can totally screw up the best book in the world and I have returned many a book because of it. I listen to every sample before I buy a book, but sometimes it takes a chapter or two to discover the hum drum or annoying narrator! I believe I have listened to the book at least 4 times now and every time I learn something new. I would actually put time aside everyday just so I could listen more. I use a sleep timer every time I listen to audible books and I would extend the timer at least an hour each time. The book does have some sections that I could not listen to because of how graphic the storyline was. I could see the event that was being told and it was just to much. It’s a long book but that is a good thing, because the story is a long one as well and must cover all areas of the time from 1900 to 1950! Everyone in High Schools should have this book as a mandatory read as I am sure that the world would be a better place because of it. It truly is amazing how 1 person can wield so much power and change so many people lives for the worst! The best book I have bought from audible and I have over 125 books in my library! - Safety Michael, April 2019

4 people found this helpful

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Grover Gardner is audible's best narrator

Grover manages to deliver Shirer's dense, fact laden work in a truly compelling way that makes it hard to stop listening.

3 people found this helpful

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Captivating history of the Third Reich

A captivating story, easy to listen to and follow. the offer, William L. Shirer confidently writes with good compression of history, and a narrative flow. Well worth the time to read considering it's great length.

2 people found this helpful

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Stunning

Amazing narration and capture of events, a must read for history buffs, hard to put down!

2 people found this helpful

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A warning from history

This is an essential look back at one of history darkest time. We should take heed of the warning this book provides against demagoguery and populism.

1 person found this helpful

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sounds familiar

History repeats itself as we spiral toward another world meltdown. It's long but well worth your time.

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The best and the worst of humanity

If there is a list of ten books everyone should read by the time they are 18, this book must be on it. If this point in our history had turned the other way, and it easily could have if we had been missing a Churchill or a Roosevelt, the dark side of our nature would have prevailed and destroyed the human spirit. There are some really tough sections of this book to get through because of the horrific acts they describe, but force yourself through them. We only have to read about these acts, while the lives of the less fortunate stain the pages of human history.

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Brilliant!

The book and its presentation are second to none. I highly recommend it to anyone that likes military history.

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  • Gary
  • 2012-10-08

Narrative possesses listener, it's that good

The book will hit you at a visceral level and be prepared to listen to it beyond your normal listening routine. It's not a history of the war. The war is treated as a background character to the machinations of the political intrigue that transpired.

The book is a series of stories with a narrative that ties them all together. Be prepared to listen to 8 or so hours about a single topic such as the run up to the incursion of Austria or the invasion of Poland. The book is not a set of sound bites but is mostly exhaustive details on the political intrigue surrounding the topic.

Why can't all readers be as good as Grover Gardner?

I had ran out of science books on audible to listen to and had low expectations for this book. My expectations were wrong.






101 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jonnie
  • 2010-11-08

Held my interest for 57 hours and 13 minutes

I always buy a long volume with trepidation wondering how many "dry spots" or "dry epochs" will be contained therein. This volume was amazing in that I was fascinated and interested every minute. The story focused on the characters while the overall picture was interwoven in their interactions and lives, particulary Hitler of course. The details added to the interest rather than extend it unnecessarily. This is a book that I will very probably savor again.
I enjoy history and military history and this is probably the best I have read.

228 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mike From Mesa
  • 2011-02-01

Quite simply the best

Of all the books I have read covering the Nazi era this is simply the best book of its type. Nothing else comes close to its readability and scope, and Shirer's presence in Germany as a reporter at the time allowed him to add many personal observations that add greatly to the authenticity of the book. While the book is now about 50 years old, research since its publication has changed few of its conclusions. It is less academic and detailed than Richard Evans triology of the period, but I found Shirer's book both more complete in its observations and much more readable. The quality of this book is evident from the fact that in all of that time, and with all of the books on the period that have been written, this book has never been out of print.

And though it needs nothing else, Grover Gardiner's flawless reading only makes the book even better. This is easily one of the 10 best books I have ever read from Audible and I recommend it without reservation to anyone with an interest in World War II in Europe.

A word of caution - this is not a dispassionate book. Shirer had definate opinions and those are not hidden. His distain for many of the primary players is clearly evident in his descriptions and that may offend some readers. This is not an academic book (See Richard Evans' Nazi trilogy for a dispassionate academic telling of the period), but no other book comes close to its readability and comprehensiveness. It covers the political events and there is no concentration on the war (see Richard Atkinson's WW II military trilogy for that).

133 people found this helpful

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  • GH
  • 2012-10-09

A Tale of Momumental Evil, Stupidity and Hatred

Never before had I read a firsthand account, from primary sources, as damning as this book. All of the negative superlatives that one could pen I have not the number of commas in my repertoire to string them together. You get a striking picture of Hitler, who he was, what he did and how he failed. As grotesque as he may be, the intellectual flyweights he surrounded himself with defy understanding. How, intelligent and gifted military leaders allowed themselves to be led into the manifest slaughter of innocent people – well I have no words. Read the book and you too will be speechless.

The book is built on primary reference materials and hence, I confess, unless I had listened to it, I would not have been able to get through it. It is essentially a 50 hour audio documentary. Although I could not listen at my usual three to four hours a day because I was so disturbed and depressed by the subject matter, I had to finish. And, to think, how close Hilter came to winning on at least four occasions makes me breathless about what evil he would have wrought and what the world would have been like today.

Hitler came to power and in twelve short years of rule and conquest - five of them in war - caused over 30 million people to be killed, not mention the number of people forced to kill on his behalf or to fend off those trying to kill them. It is a testament to how a single perverted point of view with power to influence the masses can spin lies and deceit that move ordinary people to be puppets. Looking to today’s world situation, you have to ask yourself whether parallels exist. You must listen to this book! I also highly recommend the Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk which is a true story set with fictional characters. For a Japanese view of history, read Flyboys by James Bradley.

This is must read for a serious historian. Do not expect to find gruesome details; expect to find a documented story that causes you to reconsider history and today’s world.

175 people found this helpful

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  • Sharon Schafer Bennett
  • 2012-03-04

A View of what an American saw of the Third Reich

Mr. Shirer wrote this book in the '50's, while the second world war was still very fresh in everyone's mind. While some of the advantages to examining the events that occurred after many of the principles involved had passed are clearly evident, I was very enlightened about the events that led to the rise and fall of the Third Reich. It is very evident that Mr. Shirer has certain biases that were widespread during that period. However, even that frames the events in a way a more open acceptance would not be able to do. This was a great listen, and I found it captivating.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Thomas
  • 2013-10-23

Utterly Required

Utterly required for any student of 20th century history, or WWII buff. This book is unusually well written, and very well read. One of the best bargains in the Audible Library.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tony
  • 2010-12-14

I've listened to Grover Gardner more than my wife

It might be 50 years old, but William Shirer's book is just as gripping and just as important today as ever. It is amazingly well researched and the perspective of someone that was a close and personal observer to much of the Nazi period.

Yes, it is long. At 57 plus hours, my wife reckons I've listened to Grover Gardner more than I've listened to her in 15 years of marriage. But Mr Gardner stays claim and steady throughout and never gets upset at my "what?" His narration is absolutely first class. One can't imagine a better combination than Shirer and Gardner.

128 people found this helpful

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  • Barry
  • 2012-10-29

A detailed and captivating history

What did you love best about The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?

I grew up with the usual stories about Hitler and WWII but never heard the details about how he rose to power. This book tells it all.

What did you like best about this story?

Hitler didn't hesitate to lie and deceive his friends, enemies or fellow citizens in order to get what he wanted. Not withstanding the holocaust itself I saw many parallels to our modern day politics and wonder if we have forgotten the lessons he taught us.

What does Grover Gardner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Excellent performance.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • 2010-08-06

Very Necessary Reading/Listening

In the 1990's I listened to the older BOT cassette version of this work read by Larry McKeever. He did a good job. To have this redone by Grover Gardner is a HUGE gift to us all (Thank you Grover). He does a much better job and his European pronunciations are very competent. I have read that Shirer's work is not liked by many historians in this field (especially by the Germans) but I find his writing to be on par with the great narrative historians (McCullough, Caro, Chernow, etc.). I am also listening to Richard Evans's Third Reich trilogy and, although its more thoroughly researched, his writing is not near Shirer's in elegance. And the reader is not near the quality of Mr Gardner. One of the lessons learned from this tragic story is that numerous and fractured political parties can lead to disaster for everyone.

135 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Judd Bagley
  • 2011-04-05

Much needed context

I've spent my life hearing important WWII stories, but never managed to have quite the sense of context needed to understand how they all fit together. This book analyzes the most important factor of the war -- Hitler's Third Reich -- in minute detail from the beginning to the end. And in so doing, provides the reader with a amazingly thorough understanding of exactly how the world landed in the mess it did.
This work of exhaustive research, beautifully composed and narrated, should be required reading for anybody who values democracy and peace.

45 people found this helpful